Thursday, January 31, 2008
(12:35 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Jerry Springer: The OperaWhy do critics like it so much? The joke is pretty well exhausted by the time you get finished reading the title. The musical itself is virtually unwatchable.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
(2:34 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Real Question About Fed Rate CutsHow long will it be before people realize that Ben Bernake is a Muslim plant, dead-set on abolishing the practice of charging interest altogether?
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
(11:34 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Real Question About a McCain Candidacyis not how many independents will swing his way, but how many self-identified Democrats will swing his way.
(8:34 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: Hate the Sinner, Love the SinI hate that I wrote that stupid post yesterday.
I hate it when people are simultaneously incredibly flaky and incredibly demanding.
I continue to hate not having any cash on hand.
I hate that I'm so inconsistent about linking to Tuesday Love.
Monday, January 28, 2008
(8:45 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
On the old saw, "Love the sinner, hate the sin"The problem with this phrase, when used by conservative Christians, is not so much the underlying concept as the inane things that the conservative Christian has in mind by "sin." The idea expressed here is that sin is self-destructive, and therefore if you love the person, you will want them to stop. For instance, if my friend is a drug addict, I will hate that addiction because it is destructive to my friend -- i.e., I will hate it specifically because I love my friend.
Yet with most of the "sin" singled out by users of this phrase, the harmfulness is unclear at best. For instance, homosexuality as such does not appear to be any more harmful than heterosexuality as such. Harmful patterns of behavior are possible for people of both orientations, and if not for the relentless propaganda glamorizing certain pathologies among heterosexuals, homosexuality would likely appear to be the less harmful choice.
So in the absence of any visible harm, I guess we're to assume that the homosexual is being harmed by racking up negative points on his or her heavenly scorecard. The problem is that when one is attempting to save someone from a "sin" that consists of violating some ineffable arbitrary set of rules, it's hard to see that as a demonstration of how much one loves that person -- rather, it's a demonstration of how obsessed one is with the arbitrary rules. Hence the phrase typically rings hollow.
The solution, however, is not to jettison the phrase, nor to jettison the concept of sin. Instead, one should try to reclaim it. The underlying idea of this catchphrase is useful, if we think of sin in terms of destructive behavior.
For instance, if a close relative of mine joined the US military, I would view that as a sinful decision and would try to convince them to stop being in the military. Similarly, if a friend became a Scientologist, I would view that as a pretty self-destructive and stupid thing to do, and I would tell them so. Yet in neither case would I stop loving the person -- my care for them would manifest itself as hating their sin.
And in fact, I would even go so far as to say that obsession with arbitrary rules is harmful to people, undermining their relationships and cutting off avenues for enjoyment and personal growth. Thus our only possible response to the conservative Christians we know must be to love the sinner and hate the sin.
(6:01 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Question of Paul KrugmanDuring the Bush years, Paul Krugman has been one of the most prominent voices of reason in the mainstream media -- no one in a similar position has been so consistent in pointing out the sheer insanity of the Bush administration. Now that he's talking about the Democratic primary, however, I'm just not sure what to make of him. On the one hand, he's right, in my view, to be angry at Obama for coopting right-wing talking points. On the other hand, as Yglesias points out, he's remarkably willing to forgive Clinton for supporting the Iraq War, which he has devoted a considerable number of his columns to denouncing in great detail.
All along, people have been cautioning that Krugman isn't as left-wing as he may seem in the mainstream context -- see, for instance, John Emerson's claim that Krugman is not even center-left, but center-center. Perhaps what passed as radical leftism was nothing more than a case of being more of a partisan Democrat than any actual existing Democrat -- something that, in itself, is pretty radical in our context.
(4:31 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
CheckteaseI am going through one of those periods, so familiar to us all, where I have virtually no money in the bank, but have a considerable amount of money "on the way." Among the sources of forthcoming money is a check from the Illinois Teacher Retirement System, which I paid into while I substitute taught and recently discovered I could cash out. Naturally I was glad when I got an envelope from them in the mail today -- suddenly, an ATM withdrawl would once more be possible for me! No more buying a gallon of milk with the credit card!
Imagine my disappointment, then, when I opened the envelope and found only a notification that they are going to send me a check a week from now.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
(3:58 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Further Thoughts on the Horse RaceYou know what would be great? If Romney got the Republican nomination, and during a debate the Democrat finally broke down and said, "You're fucking pathetic, you know that?"
Saturday, January 26, 2008
(7:28 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
I like to think we've made some strides away from this kind of shit, but I worry we've only really improved the music.
Friday, January 25, 2008
(10:59 AM) | Brad:
Friday ConfessionAdam is feeling blameless today, and he knew that I live such a sordid life that I'd be bound to have something to confess. Let's see ...
I confess that Clinton's nomination seems inevitable to me. And this doesn't upset me as much as I thought it might. I don't like it. But, with Edwards clearly not going to win, I'm simply not as passionate about the supposed differences between Obama & Clinton. I confess that while Obama is preferable, he isn't likely to bring the changes we'd like him to. I confess that I hope I'm wrong.
I confess that online Risk has really taken over my life. Winning two games yesterday really meant a lot more to me than it should have. Relatedly, I confess that I just attacked Kotsko without provocation, and it will cost me Iceland.
I confess that season five The Wire is shaping up nicely. My doubts about the journalism-angle are not as strong as with the first two episodes. I confess that I kind of love how creepy Marlo is, even if each new episode (esp. the last two) gives my wife a new reason to despise him.
I confess that, although a hardcore sports fan, I've not watched the whole Super Bowl since 2001.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
(12:20 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Fiscal PolicyThe excellent new-ish blog Scanner has a post proposing that any bail-out of bond insurers be accompanied by a requirement that their employees pay higher taxes. I am in favor of any proposal to tax the rich, and so I of course think it is a great idea.
This proposal prompts a broader reflection. Obviously capitalists resent taxes, and after they have spent sufficient amounts of money to screw over their workers, they will devote any remaining political donations to getting tax cuts. Often this is a "two-fer," given the commitments of the Republican party. The paradoxical thing, however, is that screwing workers and reducing taxes, while good in the short term for particular capitalists, is actually bad for the capitalist class as a whole.
Capitalists in aggregate need workers to push back against them for higher wages, so that the workers can in turn spend that money and create real economic growth. They also need the government to forcibly take away a certain amount of their money in order to invest in infrastructure and other non-profitable enterprises that are nonetheless necessary for capital accumulation in aggregate. Individual capitalists are necessarily ideologically opposed to both of these things, yet by opposing them, they shoot themselves in the foot.
A really clear example of this is health care and pensions. In the post-war period, capitalists should've handed responsibility for both over to the federal government, because it makes no economic sense for an individual business to take on an indefinite and constantly-growing liability when they have no idea whether they'll be able to pay it off -- i.e., whether there will be enough workers in the future to pay into the system. It is a much safer bet that the US economy as a whole will be able to have enough workers to pay into the system than that GM alone will. They didn't take this route, because setting up individual healthcare and pension plans gave them greater control over their workers in the short term. And now look at how well that has worked out for GM, for example. (There was a great New Yorker article about this several years ago, and I have no idea how to go about finding it.)
More broadly, however, since infrastructure and social welfare are inherently non-profitable, if capital is not forcibly seized by the government, no capitalist will undertake such projects, at least not in the long run. Yet since they are necessary to growth, the lack of such things will undercut capital accumulation in the long term because the nominal wealth of the capitalists will not correspond to any real economic growth.
The result is speculation, where large amounts of money are shifted around dramatically, with no real economic basis for the existence of said money. That is, the amounts of capital that are being destroyed right now are amounts that, by rights, should not exist anyway, because they do not correspond to any real value -- but because the US has so undercut the actual engines of sustainable economic growth, this fictitious capital is the only leverage we have in the world economy. Hence the Fed is, in a certain sense, correct to abuse its power in orer to prop up market prices. As bad as things are for the working class (which includes most of what we call the "middle class") currently, they would be even worse if this illusion were dispelled -- and as things stand, the likely result of a major economic collapse looks a lot more like Weimar Germany than another New Deal.[*]
In short, what we are seeing right now is the clearest possible vindication of the labor theory of value.
[*] The fear that Islamic countries will be taken over by fundamentalists if the present elites fall and democracy is installed is perhaps a projection -- if our ruling class collapsed, religious leaders would be the only ones to fill in the gap, at least in large portions of the country. By contrast, there's no real indication that the people of Pakistan, for instance, long for theocracy.
(7:52 AM) | Amish Lovelock:
Pissing on the StageOooch.
Question is who's doing the pissing then, I guess...
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
(5:49 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
SinkholeIn tribute to Rick Perlstein, I am embedding two video clips of the sinkhole on Montrose Avenue, not too far from The Weblog's posh Lincoln Square headquarters. (Both clips "contain language," and I imagine that I would also have used "language" had I been present.)
Since no one expects a particular section of the street to cave in, there does not seem to be footage of the collapse itself. I wonder how quickly it happened, though -- if someone had been walking on the collapsing portion, would they have been able to get away in time? My bet is yes, but to be on the safe side, I'm not leaving the house ever again.
On a completely unrelated note, did you know that the state of Illinois hasn't had a capital improvement program for the past five years? In a strange coincidence, Rod Blagojevich has been governor of Illinois for those very same five years.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
(6:06 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Breakfast for DinnerTonight, I made French toast for dinner, inspired by my roommate's improvisational meal plan last night. Discussing this important matter with the judicious Bitch, Ph.D., I was reminded of the unexpected compatibility of bacon with maple syrup. Dr. Bitch said that people act like she's crazy when she dips bacon in syrup, but I countered that those people are themselves crazy.
What say ye, readers of The Weblog? Do you side with the estimable Bitch, Ph.D., or with the unspecified nay-sayers?
(9:42 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Prolegomena to Any Future Tuesday HatredI hate how addicted I've become to online Risk, and I hate losing at it.
I hate that not even dogs and cats are safe from the subprime mortgage crisis.
I hate falling behind on my own self-imposed schedule.
I hate that the new AMC series Breaking Bad, starring Bryan Cranston of TV's Malcolm in the Middle, did not even begin to live up to the promise of its first five minutes -- although apparently this person thinks Cranston already has the Golden Globe wrapped up.
Monday, January 21, 2008
(10:11 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Further Self-PromotionZizek and Theology is now available for preorder on Amazon's US site. I have added an Amazon box to the right sidebar, through which you may pre-order it at your leisure.
While I'm at it, I have also added an Amazon box for the book French for Reading, which I recommend at every possible opportunity, and I may put other books up there as appropriate. I believe that the Amazon Associates program is set up so that the rest of a given "shopping trip" is credited to me if it originated from one of my links -- so if you're planning to buy that laptop, RV, or yacht from Amazon, please consider getting to Amazon through one of my links.
(9:38 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Martin Luther King, Jr.In an effort to do my own small part in combatting the trivialization of Dr. King's legacy, I encourage you to read "Beyond Vietnam".
UPDATE: Ogged alerts me of another anti-Vietnam speech, embedded below.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
(3:37 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Idea for a ShowHaving watched a season and a half of The Wire, I think it's time for TV to take a step beyond simply showing both the police and the criminal point of view. Instead, we need a show where a gang leader is presented as a straightforwardly legitimate authority in his territoy and the police are treated as one among many rival gangs threatening to infiltrate the community.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
(10:02 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
UnionsWith the writers strike and now the recent controversy over the casino workers in Nevada, my mind has naturally turned more toward unions. It seems to me that many young liberals are totally on board for "social justice" and environmental concerns, but are ambivalent at best about unions. Why? What's not to like about labor unions? This is a serious question: I literally don't understand why someone of liberal leanings would be skeptical about unions.
Friday, January 18, 2008
(5:09 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Gov. Blagojevich: Even More of an Idiot Than I ThoughtVia the Chicagoist, I find the following quote from our state's great governor (description of Blagojevich provided by the Chicagoist writer):
"It's like the little boy with a pile of horse manure, I kept digging cheerfully in that and found a pony in there -- the pony is free public transportation for all seniors in the state of Illinois." -- Governor Rod Blagojevich, scat enthusiastYou know -- the proverbial "little boy with a pile of horse manure." Right? Nothing inspires a child's sense of wonder and exploration like a pile of shit. And I'm not even going to attempt to deal with the second half of the quote.
My personal favorite remains his quip after refusing to give the details of how he would "improve" the transit bill: "Stay tuned." In that moment, I realized that Rod Blagojevich, were he to stand for election again, would be the exception to my "Satan himself Democrat" (parallel with "yellow dog Democrat") stance.[*] With any hope, however, some kind of "machination" will happen and Madigan's daughter will be running for governor next time -- my vote for the infamous Todd Stroger demonstrates my near-infinite tolerance for Democratic nepotism.
[NOTE: In place of Blagojevich, I would of course write in Bob Avakian.]
UPDATE: One of my correspondants points out a video clip featuring the quote.
(2:34 PM) | John Emerson:
Jonah Goldberg's book has no importance at all from a scholarly point of view, but the Jonah Goldberg phenomenon is extremely important. He's the most recent of a long string of Movement Republican mouthpieces who have gained places in the legit media, and he's put a few new tweaks into the formula. Unlike Coulter, Malkin, Limbaugh, Savage, and Beck, Goldberg speaks in a nice NPR voice and has a professorial manner, and while what he says is no more than cheap taunting, the way that he says it seems scholarly. So responding effectively to him will be tricky.
Conservatives hate liberal notions of tolerance, open-mindedness, and civility, and Goldberg is setting a trap: "OK, buddy, tolerate this!" If you argue civilly, he gains legitimacy, since his target readers are the ones who don't pay close attention and will score the debate as a draw. But if you lose your temper or ridicule him, Goldberg will smirk down at you from the moral high ground. This is an old game, and in my opinion it attacks (albeit dishonestly) one of liberalism's genuine weak spots.
Goldberg's book is also intended to inoculate Republicans against the charge of fascism -- "We're no worse than the Democrats" is the standard Republican response whenever they're caught behaving indefensibly. Goldberg doesn't really need to make his case: he just needs to plant a few doubts and give the Republican mouthpieces some new talking points. Even if his book is mostly rejected, there will be some residue, the way accusations tarnish reputations at the unconscious level even when presented from the beginning as false (e.g., "Obama has never been a Muslim and has never attended a Muslim school).
When a legit publication features someone like Kristol or Goldberg, a clear message is sent about what is expected and what is permissible. Movement Republican plants are turf markers, rather like the illiterate commissars holding high positions in Soviet universities or the thugs sent from national headquarters to oversee mobbed-up union locals. The media are free, all right, but they still have to give the Republicans a voice and a veto. The stupider the mouthpiece, the clearer the message -- it's not really possible to pretend that either one of these guys was hired for his talents. And everyone else in the organization will get the message about what the management wants.
What about the substance of Goldberg's book? Is there any? If you take the book seriously, you play into Goldberg's hands, but it's worth pointing out briefly that there's no there there. So:
Like fascists, American liberals are more populist and futurist than classical liberals and traditionalist conservatives, but so are Republicans. (The classical liberals and traditionalist conservatives are nostalgia items -- dead as a doornail.) Like fascists, American liberals are willing to intervene in the economy in a way that classical liberals weren't, but so are Republicans -- and like Republicans (but unlike liberals), fascists favored big business with their interventions. It is true that in the late Nineteenth Century and early Twentieth Century many left groups were racist, but in the contemporary U.S. the racists are Republicans (the paleoconservatives and the neo-Confederates). Some early Nazi leaders were closet homosexuals, but so are many contemporary Republican leaders. The Nazi SA used anti-capitalist rhetoric at first, but the SA leaders were all massacred in 1934 and the group lost its influence.
And so on. As far as authoritarianism, militarism, contempt for legality, xenophobia, and the cult of personality go, the Republican Party which Goldberg automatically supports is remarkably more fascistic than the Democrats or any liberal group, so Goldberg just obscures these issues.
There's really only one reason why the Republican Party cannot be called fascist yet, though it's a big one. The Republicans (so far) don't have a paramilitary branch using violence and illegal means to intimidate opponents. But multiply the anti-abortion terrorists by a few hundred, and they'll have that too. (And you have to wonder what the Blackwater paras will do once they're brought home).
Repeating falsehoods with a straight face is Jonah's job. He can do this with confidence because he knows that his Republican sponsors and his media employers will accept anything he says. He was hired as a Republican mouthpiece, and if the Republicans like what he's saying the media can't object. Goldberg can also be confident that with a very few exceptions (Jon Stewart, Keith Olbermann, and Paul Krugman) no one in the major media will ever call him out on his fraud.
I expect the rest of the media will disgrace themselves by treating him as a reasonable man making a reasonable argument, and that in itself should be enough to tell us what desperate shape our country is in.
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Negative PrehensionI confess that I have a perilously small amount of money in my bank account and that this state of affairs will persist until my student loan disbursal early next month. I confess that I am getting too used to being poor -- I don't often experience direct anxiety, but I do sometimes suffer from meta-anxiety about how unanxious I feel. I confess that the main problem in my life isn't so much that I don't have enough money on average, but that I am so often delayed in getting money. I confess that I think that the industry standard practices when it comes to paying freelancers are really unreasonable, but I tolerate it because freelancing seems to fit best with my desired lifestyle.
I confess that I'm enjoying the hermit lifestyle that exam prep requires. I confess that I'm perfectly content assuming that I will have nothing to do in the evenings and therefore planning my Netflix activities to fill the hours when I can no longer read but can't yet go to bed. I confess that I'm finally making concrete progress on remedying my lack of acquaintance with early modern philosophy. I confess that I will probably start feeling social within a few weeks and will be near the brink of despair during the several days between when I start feeling lonely and when I can get my social life moving again.
I confess that self-knowledge doesn't seem to lead to changes in my behavior. On the other hand, self-deception is amazingly effective.
I confess that I religiously check the CTA's bi-monthly slow-zone map. I confess that the super-high Orange Line crossover south of Roosevelt scares me.
I confess that I've fallen into the habit of waking up at 9:30 every day. I confess that I don't really know why this bothers me, but it does -- 8:30 seems like a much better time to get up.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
(4:09 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Doomsday Averted!Just minutes ago, the Senate voted to pass the mass transit bill with Gov. Blagojevich's amendatory veto. The House passed the same measure earlier today.
As the afternoon passed, I became so worried about the issue that I was actually watching the Senate live feed -- so The Weblog may even have this story before the local papers. That's the level of service we provide here!
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Rosetta StoneI occasionally use Rosetta Stone software as a language-learning aid. Even more than the help I get in French or German pronunciation, however, I appreciate the fact that it teaches me a new language in the same way that I learned my native tongue: namely, through a series of exercises involving various combinations of written text, voice recordings, and pictures or videos.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
(3:51 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Data Mining Run AmokIn the mail today, I received a pre-approved offer for the Anne Geddes Platinum Visa Card. Apparently, some complex algorithm spit me out as someone who would enjoy having the creepiest credit card ever:
(3:11 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Mitt RomneyI have probably been unduly influenced by Yglesias on this matter, but I tend to think that Mitt Romney is the "least bad" Republican in the race. In fact, my faux-advocacy of Romney has lately been more passionate than my advocacy of any Democrat, now that Edwards seems to be in decline -- if I can't have Edwards, either Hillary or Obama will do.
The media's love affair with McCain obscures the fact that, as things stand, Romney is the most likely to get the nomination. The media has painted Michigan as Romney's last stand. Yet going into that primary, he already had a commanding lead in terms of delegates, because he had consistently come in at least second place. As long as he keeps that up and as long as no other individual starts sweeping first-place finishes, he'll easily win the nomination as everyone's second choice. Even in the near-term, this trend is incredibly obvious. Romney is very unlikely to win either South Carolina or Nevada, and so the media will likely declare his momentary surge over -- but he is in second in both states, and two different people are in first: Huckabee and Giuliani, respectively. So the whole thing is a net gain for Romney.
The problem with verifying my theory is that the extant polls are pretty old. And of course, to keep looking viable enough to come in second place consistently, he'd have to get first place at least every so often -- a tall order for such an obviously loathsome and fake person. But he's come this far!
The depressing thing here is that if I'm right, we're likely to face a contest between Hillary and Romney -- a triumph of nihilism if ever there was one. Hillary would likely beat him handily, but at the very least, we'd be guaranteed a pandering technocrat, which would be a refreshing change of pace after 8 years of a messianic bumbler backed by an evil genius.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
(11:13 AM) | bitchphd:
Tuesday Hatred: Hating Ben WolfsonGood morning, all. Or afternoon, I guess, for you east coast freaks. Long time no hate. I come to you today because "fucking Ben Wolfson," as Mr. Kotsko calls him, "said he'd do the Hatred today" and yet--no hatred. So I told Kotsko that I'd write a hatred all about how I hate Ben Wolfson, which he (Kotsko, not Wolfson) agreed would be satisfactory.
So here is my hatred for the week of January 15. I hate Ben Wolfson for saying he'll hate, and then not hating. I hate Ben Wolfson for being indifferent to--nay, I suspect actually disagreeing with--how much I hate being the "crazy, irrational" poster over at Unfogged. (For an example, see this discussion, in which my willingness to entertain the idea that maybe a paraplegic sprinter should, actually, be allowed to run in the Olympics means that I'd "demand that the New York Philharmonic add an electric guitar section" just because I felt like it!! That's how irrational I am!!! I make demands and have the power of ruining the New York Philharmonic by forcing them to integrate those horrible modern instruments that the kids all listen to nowadays!! Or something like that.)
I hate Ben Wolfson because his current state of academic ennui might be sort of like my current state of everything ennui, and because ennui is hateful. I hate Ben Wolfson because he doesn't hate the same things I do. I hate Ben Wolfson because it is his fault, indirectly, that I don't have my Bad Ass travel cup, and I hate Ben Wolfson because he is going to ask me what the fuck I'm talking about and then deny that it's his fault. Which is the kind of totally hateful thing he does to me all the time. I hate Ben Wolfson because his name came up in a discussion with someone else the other day, and because the other person and I disagreed about whether or not his (Wolfson's, not the other person's) presence in the world was hateful (oddly, I was actually arguing that it wasn't, or at least that it should be ignored), and because there we were, arguing about Ben Wolfson. (Not really, but sort of, in a small way that's suitable for exaggeration just to fuel my hatred.)
I hate Ben Wolfson because he will no doubt be completely indifferent to the fact that I just got a completely irritating email from my kid's school's head teacher telling us that the kids are *not* going to be trying out for the district talent show tomorrow after all, because they're just going to submit a DVD instead--a change of plans that is hateful because it is coming at the last minute, after three fucking messages sent home about how Important it is to Be There Tomorrow for the Talent Show Tryouts!!! and because I just had a fight with my husband about how am I going to get myself and PK to the talent show tryouts tomorrow without the car?!? and because I had to explain to PK for half an hour the other day why the tryouts were important, why he couldn't just do whatever he wanted, and that it was going to be fun!! and now it turns out I was wasting my fucking time. I hate the fact that actually assemblys like that, where the family shows up, *are* fun for kids, and now the fucking thing is cancelled because the school's head teacher can't get his fucking act together. I hate knowing that Ben Wolfson thinks my petty mommy hatreds are boring, and that Ben Wolfson kind of thinks my kid is a spoiled brat, actually, even though he (Ben Wolfson, not my kid) has been a lot nicer about that since the last time I told him how much I hated it.
I hate the fact that Ben Wolfson flaked on writing the hatred so I had to. I hate the fact that I've actually sort of enjoyed writing this hatred, and that I owe that enjoyment to Ben Wolfson. The hateful bastard.
[Editor's note: Tuesday Love is now available.]
Monday, January 14, 2008
(8:00 PM) | Rob Breymaier:
Is Apple Overrated?It seems I'm among the very few people in the world that think Apple computers are not better than pcs. And, so I'm going to throw some reasons why I think I'm right see if anyone agrees with me. I'm no computer expert, but I do use them a lot and can get into the background a bit. I've actually hand-cleaned a program out of a registry once. But, I do not know code.
1. I think the security claims of Apple are less a function of Apple's better architecture than they are of Apple's small market share. I would bet that hackers want to get the most bang for their programming buck and so they go after he pc world instead of Macs, whether just hobbyists or actual criminals.
2. I don't think Apple's interface is intuitive and grumble about its limits every time I use one. I especially hate Macs with only one button on the mouse or the touch pad. I know there's some way to make it function like two buttons if I rock it differently or use some secret tapping code, but why not just make two buttons. Isn't that, as supposedly is the essence of Apple, more intuitive and simpler.
3. I think Apple is a lot like Fox Sports in that everything is too animated. It seems like everything I do on an Apple has some extra graphic flourish or sound to let me know I just did that. A good example is whatever Macs people call that thing that should be the task bar. Why not just show me what I have open at the bottom of the screen? Why do I have to find the right spot for that to show up and then whirl it around to get the right program?
4. Am I the only one that doesn't like Apple's pull down menus? They're too big.
5. Apples are too expensive.
6. Apple doesn't have a scaled back version (like saw the Celeron for pcs).
7. I don't like itunes that much but I was too lazy too research a better combination of mp3 player and itunes-like software. itunes seems slow. We all know the .aac format sucks for fidelity (not that mp3 is much better). The radio player has a lot of stations that don't work. And, paying a buck a song is a rip off.
I think this is officially a shit and garbage post.
Labels: s and g
(11:42 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Predicting the Next BubbleMany readers and writers of this blog share an addiction to reading about speculative finance and how it is destroying us all -- yet paradoxically, our only hope is another speculative bubble! Since we all know so much about this stuff, we should easily be able to predict the next bubble.
When I opened up an article in the latest Harper's, I mentally predicted that "alternative energy" would provide the next bubble, and the author turned out to agree, though he also added the possibility that "public-private infrastructure partnership" would contribute. On IM just now, Brad predicted that coal could be the next big thing, and looking into the future, I thought that privatized water might be a good candidate for the bubble-after-next. (By the way, does anyone remember the big flurry of articles in the mid- to late-90's about the pending water crisis? That was when I first started following such matters -- Harper's and Atlantic Monthly both had front-page articles on the subject the same month. Harper's was much less sanguine.)
Any other suggestions?
Friday, January 11, 2008
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Amid FearsI confess that I'm having trouble getting into exam preparation mode. I confess that I need to start working on a dissertation proposal. I confess that I got the typeset proofs for the Zizek book this week and so need to do the index soon. I confess that I need to eat more vegetables, particularly greens. I confess that I need a haircut.
I confess that I sent an e-mail to someone through the online personals that made me seem like the absolute most boring person in the world. I confess that despite my internet addiction and despite the cultural associations surrounding aspiring academics, I am actually much better in face-to-face settings.
I confess that sometimes I just want to write, "Hi, we should meet -- we'd probably like each other," but don't think that would be very effective. You know how "busy" everyone is! They have to be discerning, even if the discernment process ends up being more or less random. I don't think that the hypothetical hipster makeover would help with this basic problem. I confess that actually dressing like a hipster would feel like wearing a Halloween costume -- which I hate to do.
I confess that on Thursday I mailed back a Netflix DVD without watching it. My goal in doing so was to get as many discs of The Wire as I could, as soon as possible. I confess that I woke up at 10:30 in the morning for reasons that are unclear to me, and knowing that the collection time for the nearest mailboxes is 10:00, I confess that I went directly to the post office specifically to expedite my Netflix viewing. I confess that I sometimes suspect them of purposely holding back on me due to my high volume, but I sincerely hope that they don't do it this time, so I can get two more discs of The Wire on Saturday.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
(5:45 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Governor Blagojevich Remains an IdiotThe Illinois House and Senate both passed the most sensible and sustainable transit funding solution today -- primarily consisting of a marginal sales tax increase -- after 24 hours of negotiations. This summer, Gov. Blagojevich was grand-standing about how he didn't want to raise taxes on "the hard-working people of Illinois," many of whom would be severely impeded from "working hard" if the threatened transit cuts occurred.
Today, instead of vetoing the bill outright, Blagojevich used an amendatory veto to demand that senior citizens ride public transit for free. Now the legislature has to reconsider the legislation next week. This requirement comes completely out of left field -- he has never mentioned it at any point in the extremely protracted negotiations over transit funding.
Is he trying to gain a talking point now that he backed down against his idiotic opposition to a minor tax increase? Does he realize that he can't veto the bill, but still want to feel "included" in the negotiation process? Or is it just a completely random idea that popped into his head? The world may never know. One thing I do know: the man is not fit to govern. He's almost like George W. Bush, except in Bush's case, there is at least some type of consistent ideology or agenda at work. Blagojevich appears to embrace no principles or goals whatsoever. He can't even do political opportunism right.
He lives in my neighborhood -- maybe I should go egg his house.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
(11:14 PM) | Olivia Leigh:
GeographyKotsko and I battled in a geography duel, and, as expected, Kotsko won. What do you expect, I suppose? Kotsko fills his time with pleated pants, pubs and Zizek; whereas I fill my time with fancy dresses, PBR and many issues of Vanity Fair.
At any rate, if you're so inclined, I encourage you to take the Traveler IQ Challenge. Despite having traveled less extensively than me and despite not acing Geography 101 with a perfect score like I did, Monsieur Kotsko beat me, although I don't remember by how much. Perhaps he can remind you.
Post your scores here. Commence the geography battle!
Also, should I give Kotsko a makeover? I am certain I could make him into Wicker Park hipster fabulousness for all of $100 total. Do you want him to get laid by hotties more often? Weigh in now.
(12:51 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Following the ElectionsWhat percentage of press coverage and everyday conversation about the election process is based in actual knowledge, as opposed to empty speculation ("X is more electable!") or vague rhetoric ("Change!" "I'm the true conservative in the race!")?
This calculation is more difficult than it might initially appear. For instance, actual poll numbers may seem to constitute knowledge, but the opinions of those polled are themselves formed primarily based on empty speculation and vague rhetoric, as well as their perceptions of trends in previous polls (themselves based on empty speculation, vague rhetoric, and previous polls, ad infinitum). Under such circumstances, arriving at a core of actual knowledge begins to seem almost impossible.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: Sleeping LifeI hate waking up at 4:00 am. I have done so on a fairly regular basis for the past week, as readers of Valve comment threads can attest. I hate that I feel that posting comments is an appropriate way to respond to sleeplessness.
I hate the recurring dream I've been having. Around this time last year, I went out on a few dates with a woman I met through online personals. We really hit it off, but she was going through a major shift in her career and I eventually decided to back off and let her decide whether to call me again. She did not, which in my waking life I thought was fine. Apparently my unconscious mind does not think it was fine, however, because within the past two weeks, I've had three or four really long and vivid dreams about her. Most of the time, she goes on a tirade against me for fucking up so badly: I didn't realize what I had, she would've been the one, why wasn't I more aggressive, etc. In one dream, I tried to reason with her. I'd messed up back then, yes, but surely we could start over? I was met with nothing but derision.
Anyway, [name redacted], if you're reading this, I'm sorry I fucked up so badly. Now please stop tormenting me in my sleep!
I hate how stressed out I allow myself to become when working on freelance projects at home. Actually, that applies to a lot of things, chief among them being computer problems. I hate that I can neither afford nor really justify buying a new laptop. The old Kotsko-bot is going strong -- it just needs to be rebooted if I open and close too many programs. Opening Windows Media Player in particular cripples it until the next reboot, for reasons that are unclear to me.
I hate that my Netflix passion is plummeting. The first disc of the first season of The Wire is in the house (on Mike's account -- between us, we can have a hard-hitting five DVDs at any given time), and it'd better be as life-changingly awesome as everyone says it is, or else I'm in danger of becoming a New Yorker-style Netflix subscriber. I suppose I do have several seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm that I haven't seen yet, though.
I hate leaky garbage bags.
Monday, January 07, 2008
(5:16 PM) | Rob Breymaier:
take your blimp and shove itAs I was listening to the Republican debate on NPR last night (a delightful round of entertainment), Ron Paul provided a prototypically infuriating libertarian argument as follows:
Inflation is a problem and we need to go back to the Gold Standard to fix it. Let me prove it to you. Oil has increased [whatever he said]% in dollars and [whatever he said]% in euros, but it has remained constant in its price against gold.The infuriation is not just because Paul is misleading viewers/listeners. The infuriation comes from Paul expecting that no one will consider the logic of his example (and not even uber-turnaround artist Mitt Romney challenged him). His example is misleading because oil and gold are both traded in dollars. Therefore, any inflationary effect on the dollar (which the euro is also traded against) would be removed in a ratio of oil to gold.
In my experience, this is the sort of phony nonsense that libertarians love to spout off. There is often a variable left out or a logical step omitted that makes their arguments seem sound in quick conversation (in the short run?) and obviously erroneous after thoughtful deliberation.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
(7:42 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Pleated PantsWhy do I own so many pairs thereof? Why is there a style of pants that, by its very nature, seems not to fit properly?
I am presently going through my closet, throwing out most of the last remnants of the midwestern "you'll grow into it" chic. I believe that I am well past my final growth spurt -- though I must admit that the technique works up to a certain point: some stuff that I got in high school now finally fits. Suit jackets in particular seem to have held up well. Those who know me in real life will be shocked to learn that I own four.
But anyway, I'm getting some strong messages that pleated pants are awful, but I'd feel strangely vulnerable, getting rid of all but one of my pairs of dress pants. (Although the remaining pair is remarkable -- they never fail to elicit compliments, and I got them for $5.)
This post may represent the beginning of my long-delayed "fashion awakening." The Paypal link is available for those who want to participate.
(10:32 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Catholic Guilt vs. Evangelical Shame: A Thought-ExperimentAs an adult convert to Catholicism, I never fully experienced the infamous "Catholic guilt" that affects those raised in the bosom of Rome. If one were to try to define Catholic guilt, it seems to me that it would have to be an exaggerated dutifulness that does not allow one to enjoy ill-gotten gains -- that is, Catholic guilt spoils all your fun.
Many might initially think that evangelicals also experience guilt in much the same way, such that the Catholic Church's reputation for uniquely skillful guilt-cultivation is undeserved. In my experience, however, evangelicals do not normally experience guilt, but rather shame. Unlike guilt, shame carries a libidinal charge that in a certain way enhances one's fun, generating the thrill of transgression.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
(7:51 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
TimelinessOn the New York Times website, the blurb for the Sunday book review section says, "Since 9/11, publishers have been rushing to fill the knowledge gap on Islam."
(10:38 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
For Completists OnlyLast night, I watched the Short Films of David Lynch collection, and wow: it was virtually unwatchable. Lynch's own introductions to the films were interminable and awkward, and the quality of the films themselves was wildly uneven. "The Alphabet" (embedded below) was the only one that I found to be positively good -- he certainly deserved to get a film grant on the strength of it. The film that he made with the grant ("The Grandmother"), however, did not seem to me to be very good, and "The Cowboy and the Frenchman" was absolute shit. So I recommend that you just watch the movie below and leave it at that.
Friday, January 04, 2008
(6:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Three Times One Minus OneI confess that my minor resolution met with limited -- but real -- success over the last two days. I confess that it was more difficult to sustain when I was doing some freelance work that required continual use of the computer.
I confess that Google's "street view" feature frightens me, though it can be useful.
I confess that I did not eat enough fruits and vegetables over the holiday season.
I confess that I have a man-crush on David Cross. I confess that season 2 of Mr. Show does not seem to be nearly as good as season 1.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
(11:00 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Fred ThompsonWho could've predicted Fred Thompson's strong showing today in Iowa? Only a few days ago, he claimed that he didn't give a fuck about running for president, and now all of a sudden he's in the top three!
The reason this happened is clear: USA ran a 32-hour Law and Order marathon over New Year's. Particularly in a boring state such as Iowa, this was bound to have an impact. He'd better be praying for another major Law and Order push before New Hampshire.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
(5:09 PM) | Brad:
America's Consumptive CoughI've long had a problem with those misguided souls who go on about the world's "overpopulation problem." Mostly, this is a not-so-subtle way of saying that poor people really should stop breeding. Even more misanthropic critics will say, behind closed doors, after a few drinks, that AIDS will sort things out in Africa. Most would cringe at this sentiment, and rightly so, but they would likely not have a solution beyond a mixture of more education and/or liberalization of the Third World. If only we could teach them to become like us!
Unfortunately, the reality on the ground doesn't support this general assumption. In fact, if anything, the reality on the ground exposes the outright flaws both in the assumption and the perspective that came up with it in the first place. First, the assumption that everybody should be like us; and second, the self-perception that our way of life is the prize everybody's eyes should be on.
The fact is, the American dream isn't even a nightmare. No, there's too much that is tangible to it even to sustain that particular metaphor. It is, rather, a bordello fantasy straight out of Ben Franklin's Parisian nightlife. Ah, but here's the thing -- we're convinced that a) the role-play is real, and that the jizz jar bent before us / rancid piece of pulled pork dangling over us really speak in love when they say, "You fuck me better than the rest," and b) that those pox marks on our genitals will heal themselves (and if not, why not, spread the love!). Our national myth of prosperity is a role-play that never stops. We will, we're assured, figure out ways for it to continue -- be it, blindfolds, Viagra, novelty costumes, clowns, ponies and and rubber balls. Oh, and yes, extending the invitation that others can play along!
So, we present the Third World with the Third Way, an illusion of our own illusion, that is, the means to consume as much as we do, if they but embrace democracy and its open markets, and then snicker mightily at the tragedy that the Earth cannot even sustain our own present levels of consumption. To embrace our illusion, and even to openly propogate it, is one thing; but to believe in it is another thing entirely. Such is the damnable offense of religion and marriage and education and liberalism, etc.
So, you're right, Jared Diamond. No, the problem isn't them. The problem isn't the real sex and overpopulation of others -- as patriarchal and problematic as their sex often is. The problem is our wet dream turned real: an erection that never stops at an orgy that never ends. The American way of life, at its finest.
(9:44 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
A Minor New Year's ResolutionWhen I first started using Google Reader, I thought it would reduce the amount of time I spend "keeping up" on things. In principle, it can be that, but in practice, it became yet another thing for me to hover over and "check," joining the essential task of endlessly clicking the refresh button on Gmail and Haloscan.
Be it resolved, therefore, that I will henceforth exclude Google Reader from my routine internet checks and limit its use to particular times (beginning with breakfast). To symbolize this resolution, I have removed the Google Reader tab from my standard browser setup, leaving only Gmail and Haloscan comments.
With any luck, this resolution will last until this afternoon.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
(1:19 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: All the Way from JapanIn lieu of Tuesday Hatred today, I am going to tell you the story of my New Year's Eve festivities. Comments are open for any and all hatred.
Last night, I went with a friend from the U of C to the Checkboard Lounge, a blues club in Hyde Park. I was expecting it to be a relatively empty dive bar, and so the entire night was a surprise to me. The format of the night was for the backup band to remain steady, while various band leaders took their turn. The opening band leader was an old man who seemed to be drunk, senile, nervous, or some combination thereof, and who simply pointed at the players when it was their turn to do a solo -- once he accidentally pointed at the bass player, who began to play a solo before being cut off abruptly. It was the only bass solo that would be heard that evening, which was also free of any drum breaks.
The old guy made pretty much everyone feel nervous -- I was surely not the only one wondering what the protocol was if a performer dies on stage. But my attention was somewhat diverted by the fact that the band's saxophone player was a young Asian woman. Her solos were all really good, at least to my nonexpert ear, and I at first reasoned that she must be a U of C student who had somehow gotten involved with the club. When the second band leader came up, however, it became clear that no one really knew where she came from. He introduced the soloists by name, except for the saxophone player: "And all the way from Japan... um... the saxophone player! I don't really know her name, but she's one bad mamma-jamma." She then played the solo with aplomb. The headliner, Vance "Guitar" Kelly, also referred to her as merely the saxophone player "all the way from Japan," and over the course of the evening, it became clear that she barely knew English.
Vance "Guitar" Kelly was by far the best among the band leaders. When he first came up, he was wearing a coat and scarf -- which he kept on for the entire night -- so I thought he might be a bouncer making an announcement, but he strapped on the guitar and started playing "Members Only." After an awesome Jimi Hendrix cover, he temporarily handed the reins over to his daughter and her husband -- "all the way from Switzerland" -- who also happened to be a blues guitarist. The daughter was very enthusiastic, though it started to seem like the only song she knew was "Rollin' Down the River," which she sang in two different versions.
Her real passion appeared to be shaking her ass, and at a certain point she decided to do an audience participation portion, where she would teach others her unique dancing style. Despite my protestations, I was chosen as a part of this group, which drew disproportionately from the handful of repressed white people in the club. I was standing next to her for the first lesson, and though I gave it an honest try, looking down at her ass I realized that I simply did not have the muscles required to make anything close to that happen.
Thankfully, a non-repressed white guy quickly took center stage, attempting to outdo the daughter. I gladly stepped aside. The final stage of the audience participation was for us to freeform, or as she put it, "do what you want." I considered sitting down in the nearest chair, but calculated that that would only bring further attention to me. When I was mercifully released, a guy from the next table over -- who incidentally spent much of the evening doing a dance that primarily involved hopping around in circles in his chair -- gave me the thumbs up. I disagreed.
At around 11:15, a meal was served -- a heaping plate of soul food, for which we had to stand in line. I found the late-night meal strange, but it did seem to be a good way of preventing hangover. They distributed glasses of champagne (my friend, who had gone to the Checkerboard for New Year's the previous two years, said they used to give out whole bottles) just in time for the countdown. We left after Vance "Guitar" Kelly's next set.
This post seemed more interesting when I was composing it on the train.